At South Shields fairground when I was a lad, there were always a multitude of sugary temptations available that inevitably made you ill after a few spins on the Waltzer. Candyfloss, sugar doughnuts, sugar dummies, all there awaiting an exchange of your pocket money to help you feel queasy for the rest of the day. But how I loved a trip to the fair; more so for those forbidden treats than the Helter Skelter or Ghost Train.
My favourite by a mile was the toffee apple; what an invention. An apple that may or may not have been weeks old, with an inch thick red sugar coating and a lolly pop stick stuck into it. Attempting to bite into one without making you look like an idiot was fairly impossible. No mouth, not even mine, was big enough to shatter that coating at the first attempt. And when you finally did get into it, glass-like shards of sugar would penetrate the roof of your mouth and fillings would be destroyed in one sitting. But your 50 pence would be money well spent as I swear it took all day to finish a toffee apple.
Move forward 20 odd years and a toffee apple became the influence for a rather nice cake - but with the benefit of not having glass-like shards of red toffee and a grown up splash of cider to give it an extra apply taste. I think it will be a long wait before a cake like this will be seen at South Shields fairground, but if you do so happen to venture up these parts, I beg you to tackle the legendary red toffee apple. But bring a spare set of dentures.
Toffee Apple and Cider Cake
For the toffee sauce
50g Demerara sugar
2 tbsp golden treacle
50ml single cream
2 apples, peeled and cored and cut into slices
100g caster sugar
100g butter, softened
200g self raising flour
100ml dry cider
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
3 apples, cored and grated
A handful of sultanas
1 - Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180 degrees C. Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin with a removable base.
2 - To make the toffee sauce, put the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until golden then put aside.
3 - In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one by one until thoroughly combined.
4 - Fold in the flour, spices, sultanas and apples, and then stir in the cider. You may not want to add it all or you may want to add more, you are looking for 'dropping' consistency, i.e. take a spoonful and hold it upside down. It should fall slowly from the spoon.
5 - Place the apple slices into the cake tin then pour over the toffee sauce. Pour over the cake mixture. Place onto the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until firm.
6 - Leave to rest before turning out onto a cooling rack. Serve slightly warm.